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U.S. Congress

Carl Malamud

Report to the Congress—Submitted on March 13, 2007

Introduction

By the end of the 110th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives could achieve the goal of providing broadcast-quality video of all hearings and the floor for download on the Internet.

Summary

This collection consists of a variety of materials prepared to demonstrate to Congressional officials that a substantial upgrade in the quality of their video record of hearings is in order. The collection consists of three types of activities. First, a large number of hearings were "ripped" off of the streaming media servers used by the U.S. Congress and posted to the Internet Archive and Google Video. Second, an unsolicited report was submitted to the Speaker of the House. Third, after a series of discussions with the Office of the Speaker, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, and officials from the Committees on House Administration, Oversight, Judiciary, and Energy/Commerce, a series of high-resolution MPEG-2 streams from selected hearings are being posted.

Further Reading

Report to the Speaker of the House

Boing. Boing. Boing.

All the Government's Information (A Google Tech Talk)

Three Solutions

The original Report to the Speaker was originally posted March 13, 2007. On August 3, 2007, we were pleased to give the following updates:

  1. As a short-term solution, private citizens are now able to order full-resolution discs of committee hearings directly from the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives. The service is known as First Call+, their phone number is (202) 225-8000, and the order form is here. Note that in order to get a committee hearing, you must first get the form signed by the committee chairman. To date, four committees have agreed to such postings. You may find examples here on the Internet Archive from the committees on Energy/Commerce (this one features Chad Hurley in a suit!), House Administration (check out the Diebold machine getting hacked!), Oversight, and Judiciary.
  2. Several months of feasibility studies, discussions, and other investigation have resulted in a recommendation by the Advanced Business Solutions unit of the Chief Administrative Officer. A medium-term solution was considered, consisting of copying thee contents of DVD jukebox maintained by the House Recording Studio onto an FTP server. At 3.6 gbytes/hour, the number of users would be small, and one can always throttle the bandwidth. If there isn't enough space for all 11,000 hours in the archive dating back to the beginning of 2005, it was proposed that the cache size could be limited, discs could be put on-line for a period of time, and then rotated with fresh material. Groups such as the Internet Archive, Google Video, and the Government Printing Office have all agreed this is a feasible solution and they would grab the files and distribute them further. The analysis of this short-term solution by the Advanced Business Solutions unit has concluded: “from a technical stand point we now know this is very easy and inexpensive to do.”
  3. As a long-term strategy, the Office of the Speaker has conducted a large number of meetings, as has the Committee on House Administration, the Chief Administrative Officer, and several other groups. There is a concrete, funded set of initiatives to finish the wiring of the rooms so that all hearings have video coverage, and it is clear from a technical point of view that it is possible to achieve the goal of broadcast-quality video for download on the Internet by the end of the 110th congress. The recommendation to adopt that goal is currently awaiting action from the Office of the Speaker and the Chairman of the Committee on House Administration.

Carl Malamud (carl AT media.org) for Public.Resource.Org.

Additional Resources


PART OF
United States Government Films
News & Public Affairs
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U.S. Congress
by Committee on Energy and Commerce
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House Energy and Commerce - Violent Video Games - 192984-1-DVD - House Energy and Commerce Committee. Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade & Consumer Protection. This hearing contains video game scenes depicting violent behavior. Witnesses testified about the pros and cons of violent video games. Topics included child development and brain research, rating systems, racial stereotypes, increasingly powerful technology, sexually explicit content, and marketing. Filmed by C-SPAN. Non-commercial use...
Topic: Committee on Energy and Commerce
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House Oversight Committee Product 81075-1-DVD U.S. Space Exploration U.S. House of Representatives. House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice. Subcommittee members heard testimony on the future of NASA and space exploration. The panelists discussed various ways to fund future space endeavors under the constraints of a more balanced federal budget and decreasing expenditures for NASA. One such option under...
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House Energy and Commerce - Digital High Definition Television - 104148-1-DVD - House Energy and Commerce Committee. Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Network and cable executives and representatives of computer companies testified about the transition to digital television transmission and the impact on the public. Three different kinds of HDTV were demonstrated. The witnesses answered questions about the future of television and the economic impact of...
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Topic: Committee on the Judiciary
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by Committee on Energy and Commerce
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Topic: Committee on Energy and Commerce